KMP Update - Reduce Bounce and Improving Comfort

KMP Update - Reduce Bounce and Improving Comfort

First off big thank you to everyone who preordered a pair of the KP-S.  The response has been incredible and we really appreciate the support!

We've been working on hard on the KMP.  As we explained in our previous post (read here), the three major features of the KMP is (1) bounce reduction, (2) part replacement, and (3) customization.  So far we think we've created a design that allows for easy part replacement and customization.  We have had more trouble getting the bounce down, while ensuring the pack remains comfortable.  This post explains what we've tried so far and what our next steps are.

There are three main issues that cause bounce

Elastic - One reason bounce occurs is because of the elastic straps.  Elastic is not meant for load bearing applications.  Look at any piece of equipment meant to help you carry 10+ pounds and you will not see elastic as the primary means to securing the weight to your body.  Due to the design of paintball packs, elastic, however, is a necessity because you need the waist band to stretch when you move.  If nothing stretched the pack would ride up on the wearer and be extremely uncomfortable.

Weak Back Support - The second reason is insufficient back support.  If you make the back support solely out of foam, that foam will have trouble supporting the weight of the pods during movement.  There needs to be a stiffener inside the back pad to ensure the pad retains its shape when loaded.  The challenge is not to make the back pad too stiff so it still forms to the players back.

Clothing - How a player wears their pack has a big impact on bounce.  Wearing a pack over a jersey will cause the pack to bounce more than wearing a pack over your pants because the shirt will move against the skin more than the pants.

How we are tackling the issues

We are working to address these issues by (1) using a thermoplastic called tegris to stiffen the back pad, (2) using thick elastic and locating it in the middle of the pack, and (3) using strategically placed elastic supports.

Tegris Support

Sewn into the back pad, is a strip of tegris to help support the weight of the pods.  Tegris is an excellent material because it is rigid but still is able to form to the shape of a player's back.  We are currently experimenting with a 2 inch thick belt of tegris.  The support has worked well, but the videos we took and reviewed show the pack still buckling a bit when moving.  To address this, we plan plan to thicken the middle section of the tegris support to better support the weight of the pods.

Locating the Elastic Straps

The second step we took is to locate a 5 inch piece of woven elastic in the middle of the pack.  The width of the elastic helps to press the entire backside of the pack against the player's back.  We also located the elastic only in the middle of the pack to help protect the elastic from getting overstretched when the pack is loaded with paint.  This elastic is then connected to the front belt that is made of 2 inch webbing.  Our initial testing shows that we are able to get the pack to fit tighter against the wearer's body than a traditional pack design.  The biggest issue at the moment is making sure the 2 inch belt in the front is comfortable to wear.  We are working on adding a bit more padding in the front to make the front belt more comfortable.

Elastic Supports

In several locations around the pack we have placed elastic supports to prevent the elastic from stretching too far.  These supports prevent the pack from bouncing but still allow the player to move comfortably in the pack.  We are still working on getting the supports to work perfectly, but we are really happy with the results so far.

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